minstrel: Bards, Ceilidhs, and Ye Olde Englyshe

Muirgheal leslyann at voyager.snetnsa.com
Fri Apr 25 10:55:39 PDT 1997

>> I beg to differ.  Also "common modern" practise originated in the 
>> Victorian era, there was *no* rule about adding final "e" or not until 
>> the Enlightenment, when They more or less invented "proper" spelling.  
>> Look at Chaucer, for example--sometimes he uses them, sometimes he 
>> doesn't, and the pronunciation thereof depends wholly on metrical 
>> demand.  The word "kind" could be rendered kind, kynd, kinde, or kynde.
>Ah, but therin lies the difference.  Chaucer added an "e" when he spelled
>his words (or his scribes did, or scribes copying his MSs did...) *when it
>was needed* for meter, rhyme, or what-not, to reflect teh actual
>pronunciation.  The superflueous "e"s on the end of Olde Englishe are not

The problem aparently arose from thinking that extra "e"s could be 
superflueous.  Our modern spellings have silent letters because, when 
people decided that we should have "proper" standardized spellings, they 
frequently wound up standardizing one dialect's spelling, but it got paired 
with a different dialect's pronunciation.  A lot of the strange spellings 
in modern English, including the existence of so many silent "e"s, are the 
result of this phenomenon.  Originally, the only reason anyone would put an 
"e" on the end of a word was if they pronounced that word with an "e" sound 
at the end of it.  I don't remember quite when standardized spellings came 
about and created silent letters, but I know it was well after our period.


(I can't give a proper citation, because I don't have the book with me and 
have forgotten the author's name, but I learned this from a book called    
"The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way".  I also learned from 
it that if written well enough, even grammar can be a riveting and 
hilarious topic.)

Name: Lesley Anne Baker
E-mail: leslyann at voyager.snetnsa.com
04/25/97     10:55:39

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